As you come to finish line, you most likely are thinking of only one thing. “YES!!! I made it to the END”.. but in all actuality the finish line is the start line for recovery, that is, and for your prepartions for the next race. What you do in the minutes, hours, and day’s after completing any race will determine just how quickly you recover, just how quickly you get your legs back to return to regular training. Doing the right things will make racing minimally disruptive to your overall training program, – on the other hand… doing the wrong things could spoil your next race by setting back your training or even resulting in illness for injury.
OK!, so you ask, “What are the right things”? Let’s take a look.
The First Hour
Your first order of business after turning in your timing chip and shaking the hand of the person you beat in a sprint finish (You did win right?) is a proper cool-down. Jogging slowly or walking and stretching after finishing a race will flush lactic acid and other metabolic wastes from your muscles and help to jump-jump start the muscle repair process.
For races up to the half-marathon distance, jogging is perferable, except if you’re a slower runner for whom there’s no real difference between race pace and cool-down pace. Go for 10-20 minutes, depending on your fitness level and state of fatique, and then stretch all the muscles of the lower body for several minutes. Try to stay on your feet for another half hour or so after you complete your cool-down. After a marathon, cool down with walking and stretching.
Your next concern is getting the right nutrients into your body in the right amounts.
You need water and electrolytes to replace fluid losses, carbohydrate to replenish depleted stores of muscle and liver glycogen, and protein repair damaged muscle cells. try to consume at the very least – 16 to 24 ounces of fluid in the first hour, plus one gram of protein for every four grams of carbohydrate.
The most convenient way to gel all this stuff is the form of a sports drink especially formulated for recovery.
One thing to avoid is getting a massage right after the race, unless it’s a very, very light one. (I say “Why bother” ?) Anything more than gentle superficial rubdown could actually increase inflamation and muscle tissue breakdown you’ve incurred through the race and from which you now must revover. The best time for a proper sports massage is 24-48 hours after the race.
It is also best to avoid alcohol and sitting for the remainder of the day. OK! – Many want to celebrate a job well done (even if we didn not win) within the first 24 – 48 hours is the worst time to do it. Remember alcohol interferes with the rehydration process. If you must ravel after the race, make frequet walk-and-stretch stops if yourgoing by car or pace the cabin of the plane every 20 minutes or so. Your glycogen stores are severely compromised after racing and really need to be restored before you can return to normal training. There has been a study indicating that you should take enough carbohydrate to equal a total intake of 3-5 grams for every point of your bodyweight.
Unless you are a high-mileage runner, don’t do any running the day after a race. There is no fitness to be gained, and much recovery to be lost. Don’t even think that by staggering just a short training run within 24-30 hours of racing at any distance, will help your prepare for what is to come. It does not. If you have just run a marathon, do not run for at least three days, How quickly you return to normal training depends on the length of the race you’ve just completed, your fitness level, and when you plan to race next. If the race is the last one in your current training cycle, you should feel no rush to return to normal training. In fact, you’ll be better served in the long run if you allow your body and mind to rejuvenate through a brief span of inactivity followed by a period of informal, just-for-kicks workouts, perhaps featuring some alternative modes of exercise. Having said that, however, I do recommend that you have some idea as to what your next running goal will be even before your climactic race, as this will help you overcome the post-peak blues runners normally feel following a much-anticipated event, whether they’ve raced well or poorly.
After shorter races, up to 10K, you can do your next hard run within as few as three days, if you’re a high-mileage runner, wait about five days. After a 10-miler or half-marathon, fitter runners can go long or fast again after four or five days, while more casual runners should wait at least a full week.
After a full marathon, any runner who wishes to maintain a high level of fitness should do little or no running for four to seven days, followed by a week of only low-intensity running. Then you can return to your normal regimen.
Cross-training is a great way to maintain fitness without slowing the recovery process in the first few days after a longer race. Walking, swimming, cycling and in-line skating are all good choices, as long as you keep the intensity low.
Remember, replenishing glycogen stores is as important to the muscles and body as it is the the brain….. Be smart…. train smart, run smart and recover smart.
Read into this little saying from Dr. Seuss…. “I’m afraid sometimes you’ll play lonely games too, games you can’t win because you’ll play against you”.
Learn more about timing, frequency and which type of massage is
right for your situation.
Most runners love to get a massage. Not only does it feel great, but it can also help speed recovery, reduce muscles soreness and facilitate injury healing. There is, however, there is some confusion when it comes to massage. Typical questions include:
When is the best time to get one? Which type is best for runners? What common mistakes should I be wary of?
Having been a massage therapist for ver 8 years, I had the opportunity to work with many runners. Not only did this experience help me identify many of the common questions and misconceptions about massage, but it has also allowed me to test a variety of theories when it comes to the optimal timing, pressure, and massage modality.
Following, I will share with you some of the different types of massage for runners and explain when to effectively utilize which type. I’ll also outline when, and how often, you should schedule a massage to ensure you get maximum benefit without impacting your workouts or races.
Which type of massage is best for runners?
It’s not surprising that runners get confused about what type of massage would benefit them most. Depending on where you look, there are over 30 different types of massage identified on the internet. Of course, some of these styles are obviously not specifically beneficial to athletes, but runners can go beyond the typical “sports massage” to get results. The following are the four most beneficial types of massages for runners:
Active Release Technique
Active Release Technique, commonly known as A.R.T., is massage technique that combines movement with specific, deep pressure to help relieve muscle adhesions and reduce scar tissue buildup.
During an A.R.T session, the therapist uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and mobility of the soft tissue and then works to break up these adhesions with their hands, as well as movement of the muscle.
Active Release Therapy – Injury Prevention for Runners (A.R.T.)
Active release is best for treating a specific injury, especially one where the formation of scar tissue impacts the ability for the body to heal itself. Most notably, A.R.T. is an effective treatment method for hamstring injuries, plantar fascitis and shin splints. (and more)
Swedish massage is perhaps the most well known of the common massage modalities and is often associated with relaxation and pampering. However, Swedish massage can also benefit runners, especially before big competitions.
Swedish massage utilizes long, flowing strokes of various pressure, although usually light, to release muscle tension and increase blood flow.
Swedish massage is best used in the days before big competitions or as a recovery tool after hard workouts. The lighter, relaxing strokes help relieve stress and muscle tension without damaging the muscles, which is important if you have a big race on the horizon. A Swedish massage before a race, especially if you’re coming off a hard week of training, can help you reenergize, relax, and get your legs back under you.
Trigger point therapy is a massage modality that targets muscle knots and areas of referred pain in the muscle tissue. Therapists target and find knots in the muscles or areas of referred pain and use deep pressure to help loosen the adhesions.
Like A.R.T., trigger point therapy is best used to treat injuries. Specifically, trigger point therapy is effective in the treatment of IT band tightness, calf strains, and hamstring injuries.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massages typically focus on a few specific problem areas and, unlike trigger point therapy, work the entire muscle. Because runners often have tight spots and interconnected issues when volume and intensity are high, deep tissue massage is often the modality of choice during hard training segments. Although receiving a massage just before compitition is good – one must realize that a deep pressure/tissue massage is not. If receiving a massage within a day of your event- be sure to mention to your therapist when the event is and that you would prefer something relaxing and light therapy on the tighter spots. (ie Hams, quads, lower back and calf’s.)
I do hope you find this helpful and consider your timespent training and running – learn to understand the benefits of massage therapy for everyone including you the Runner…learn to get the most of your massage.